Electric scooter – what is the future urban traffic?
Wim Ouboter, the founder of the micro scooter, recently accepted a visit from the BMW Group and expressed his views on topics such as scooters, electric scooters and future transportation.
In 1997, Wim Ouboter redefines scooters. His micro scooter has been a global success and has since become an integral part of the world's metropolis. Today, the Swiss entrepreneur stands at the forefront of the wave of electric scooters. This is a conversation about the fun of the last mile, the early days of the development of electric scooters, and the future of transportation.
In order to fit this topic, Wim Obert was riding an electric scooter for an interview. He was not affected by traffic jams during the rush hour in Zurich and arrived at Europaallee on time, a state-of-the-art development near the main railway station in Switzerland. His right foot swayed freely, and the blue jacket fluttered in the wind. This is the pioneer of electric commuting.
Mr. Obert, you developed the first miniature scooter in the late 1990s: a collapsible scooter that opened a new type of transportation on a large scale. How did you come up with this far-sighted idea at that time?
Wim Oberth: Actually, when I was in Zurich, I was too lazy to walk from the apartment to my favorite sausage stall - Stern BBQ. This distance is about half a mile (1 km) - it is too far to go, but if I take my bike out of the basement at this distance, it is too close. So I thought of an idea to create a convenient way to cross these "micro-distances", which was the source of inspiration at the time.
So you modified the two sons' scooters?
Wim Oberth: No, first I tried to use a modified old children's bicycle. But I am very interested in the small hard wheels of inline skates, which have almost no rolling resistance. So I tried a pedal with an adjustable length. I noticed that the shorter the wheelbase, the more interesting the ride. Therefore, these interesting factors began to ferment, which also played an important role in the later "micro-transportation".
Wim Obert rides his electric scooter to the next location. When the trams and cars near the train station were slowed down by many construction sites, he galloped along the bicycle path leading to Platzspitz, a park in the heart of Zurich. When he saw a young man riding a scooter made by his company Micro Mobility, he was proud to say: "It is our product."
Zurich Electrification: Wim Ouboter is in front of the Zurich Opera House. Since 1900, trams have been part of the largest urban public transport in Switzerland.
Interesting last mile: the new BMW electric scooter
Micro x The scooter produced by the BMW lifestyle. Micro's custom-made electric scooter is collapsible, which means it can be easily loaded into any tailgate. It weighs just under 22 pounds (9.9 kg) and is easy to carry.
Low profile in Swiss style: micro for electric scooters developed by BMW Group
The integrated Li-Ion battery can be fully charged in just 2.5 hours and has a cruising range of 7.5 miles (12 kilometers). In sport mode, the electric car can reach a top speed of 12.4 miles per hour (20 km/h). There are four driving modes that can be selected through the BMW electric scooter app. At the same time, the app provides information such as battery status, mileage, and remaining mileage. It can also be navigated using Google Maps.
Electric scooters are now on the market, and we can see in the city what new possibilities are these electric scooters for urban transport?
Wim Ou Bote: These small electric motor scooter into a mature vehicle with a larger, more functional application scenarios. I think the most important application is to cover the "last mile." If you enter the city by car or train, your actual destination is usually a little farther than the parking lot or train station. The electric scooter is best for running this distance, especially because it is light and convenient, you can throw it into the trunk or take the train.
“In the United States, the shared electric scooter has an average life of 28 days. This is by no means sustainable.” – Wim Oberth
Will you take an electric scooter into public transportation systems such as trams and buses?
Wim Oberth: Occasionally. Like most other cities, Zurich can enter public transport with a foldable electric scooter at no extra charge. But usually, I often ride an electric scooter instead of a tram or bus. I would rather ride my electric scooter for a few miles in the city than to run three stops in the city on a crowded bus. And, unlike cycling and electric scooters, riding an electric scooter won't make me sweat when I get to the office or go out to work.
What do you think will be the future of sharing scooters?
Wim Obert: The future belongs to the station-based leasing system, and the Swiss Federal Railways has followed this route. For example, at the central railway station in Zurich, there is a fixed station where you can borrow and return scooters. At such stations, you can also enjoy other city car rental services, such as electric bikes and small electric cars. Electric scooters are just one of the many components of future micro-vehicles.
Is our city ready for the new miniature vehicle, the electric scooter?
Wim Oberth: The most important thing is the construction environment. For example, Zurich is very suitable for electric scooters because we have a smooth surface with almost no pebbles. If a pit appears, it will be immediately repaired by Swiss-style obsessive-compulsive disorder (laugh). A historic city like Milan is not as suitable because of the pebbles.
What will micro traffic in the future city look like?
Wim Oberth: One thing I can foresee is that the car lane will be reduced, leaving room for the "slow lane." These lanes will run at 20 miles per hour (30 km/h) and will be shared by bicycles, electric scooters and other forms of miniature mobile vehicles. They will have less exhaust, less noise and take up less space. This is how micro-transportation will improve the quality of our lives.
Wim Obert: a pioneer in electric commuting
Obert's surname comes from his great-grandfather who immigrated from the Netherlands to Zurich. Wim was born there in 1960 and started his career from a banker. In 1997, he began repairing his first two-wheeled folding scooter. In 1998, he launched a prototype of a three-wheeled scooter and marketing it with the sports brand K2.
Later, Oberth founded his own company, micro, with these profits, and launched a two-wheeled scooter, which sold more than 30 million in the first year alone. In 2013, micro launched the first electric scooter. Today, the company's products cover more than 50 different mobile vehicles, from children's scooters to electric scooters to Microlino compact electric vehicles.